After sanding and before staining wood, apply a couple coats of wood conditioner (Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner) to prepare the wood, it will keep your wood from looking blotchy and minimize grain raising, allowing the stain to absorb more evenly
Krud Kutter Gloss-Off, GREAT- all-in-one cleaner AND deglosser. Advance paint. Oh. my. goodness. The paint store guy/expert said, "It's revolutionary." He said that it's basically an oil-based paint that acts like a latex (even though it is a latex paint). You get all of the good points of an oil-based paint, with none of the negative. It hardens like an oil, wears like an oil, but cleans up like a latex and it doesn't smell like an oil!